30 October 2014

Specimen Roach - Lochnaw Castle 2014



25/10/2014 - 29/10/2014 - Lochnaw Castle is home to the UKs monster roach and is a lake I have wanted to fish for some time now but have been too busy on other campaigns to find the time. I decided to get in touch with the fishery manager Kev and managed to get on the lake for a few days fishing with a chap named James Champkin to target the large roach that regularly come out over 3lb! Lochnaw Castle is located in the south west of Scotland near the coast in a place called Stranraer and it has a solid  reputation for producing some enormous roach. I couldn't wait to arrive.
After a ten hour journey I pulled into the castles grounds and had a good walk around the 50 acre lake looking for any signs of showing fish but the weather conditions were terrible for trying to spot rolling roach. James arrived and gave me an introduction to the lake advising me on the lakes depths etc. James has been to Lochnaw Castle twice catching fish to 2lb 13oz on previous trips so his knowledge was valuable in the swim choice. After some discussion we decided to settle in a  spot opposite stair island that offered a large amount of water to fish to. This decision was aided by the wind pushing in, the fact the this area had not been fished recently and that James had caught some monster roach from this particular area.


I had thought hard about my baiting approach and decided to bring a selection of baits including 10mm boilies, maggots, hemp and ground bait pictured right. Rigs were standard helicopter style hair rigs anchored away from the main line with a rubber sleeve and held in position by two adjustable float stops. I fished these rigs in conjunction with a Drennan cage feeder straight through with 6lb main line.  The rigs were tied with 5lb fluorocarbon fished with a Drennan Specialist size 12 barbless hook. I decided to take a light approach to baiting up and waded out so that I could fire some boilies and small balls of ground bait in the general area to where I was fishing. The weather conditions made it near impossible to be completely accurate but I figured the fish would moved around more picking of baited spots and sthe area for food. I recast every few hours to keep some bait going in and fished at approximately 70 yards distance.

The first night passed uneventful and after being smashed up by some smaller roach it was not looking to good for a larger specimen. Some of smaller roach up to 8oz have acquired a taste for boilies bigger then their mouths and we were catching them on 10mm and size 12 hooks! After a hard days fishing we settled in for the night when Kev arrived to see how we were getting on. Kev is always on hand to dish out the latest news regarding the lake and generally there to help any angler that takes on the challenge of Lochnaw.

Sitting in James bivy having a social my alarm suddenly sounded a few beeps and I ran over to my rods to check out the disturbance. The line swing was tight to the butt and there was pressure on the rod so I lifted into the feeder and felt a good resistance on the other end. I knew this was the fish I had come all this way for and I was shaking whilst playing it steadily towards the waiting net held by James. On seeing the fish James thought it may have been one of the trout that inhabit the water and do come out on anglers baits but after my heart had sunk he got another look in the dark and confirmed it was a massive roach. Straight into the net she went and it looked huge. With estimations flying between me and James we really thought it would go 3lb but when the scales settled on 2lb 11oz I was not disheartened. My previous best was 2lb so this was monster and I had achieved my target. The social continued and a bottle of celebratory Jack Daniels went down a treat. Happy days and I still had two nights left.


The second and third night passed without another fish and again it looked like we were not going to catch  gigantic red fin number two when out of no where James landed a 2lb 11oz specimen.


The weather conditions turned for the worst that night and the wind was thundering over the loch  with vertical rain penetrating inside my brolly system complete with no overwrap! I got soaked to the bone but didn't get it as bad as James who woke up exposed to the elements with his brolly in a tree. We managed to get the bivy pegged down again which is no easy feat at three in the morning in such terrible weather conditions.

After all the commotion and when the wind died down I heard a Delkim sound and ran to the rods. I had received a drop back bite on which I struck to feel a good resistance on the other end. I played the fish carefully and into the waiting landing net. Again the fish looked huge and on weighing her she went 2lb 8oz. The fishing had been hard and we had managed three fish between us in five days but what fish they were. I really cannot wait to get back to Lochnaw which is such a great roach water in such stunning surroundings.